Summer Must Haves Part 1: Communication Gear

In the United States, four types of radio technology are used for motorcycle intercoms: FM, GMRS, FRS, and Bluetooth. FM is similar to the FM radio you listen to, but motorcycle intercoms use a narrower frequency. It works best over shorter distances and where there are no obstacles between the transmitter and the receiver. GMRS stands for General Mobile Radio Service; FRS stands for Family Radio Service. Both of them are rather like the old walkie-talkies you may have used as a child. The typical FRS device has a maximum range of about two miles and can overcome only a few obstructions. GMRS devices can communicate over several miles.

FM, FRS, and GMRS are all public frequencies. That means other folks can hear your conversation, and you can hear other conversations. In cities where a lot of people are using such devices, you’ll hear a lot of chatter and you will not have privacy yourself. Out on the open road, there won’t be so many other people using this type of device so you will have a quieter ride and will be less apt to be overheard.

But Bluetooth technology is the one that’s featured in the two headsets we’ll look at today.

Sena’s 10S Headset Intercom uses Bluetooth 4.1 with Headset Profile, Hands-Free Profile, Advanced Audio Distribution, and Audio-Vidoe Remote Control Profile. It gives you twelve hours of talk-time and works over about a mile in open terrain. At just two ounces, it’s lightweight. Motorcycle intercoms can suffer from wind noise at higher speeds, but this headset helps with that using Advanced Noise Control™. It takes three hours to charge the lithium polymer battery, which then stays charged on standby for up to ten days. This headset also has a built-in FM radio with Radio Data System Alternate Frequencies for your listening pleasure. It can pick up stations whose frequencies are between 76 and 107 MHz. It has an automatic scan feature and can retain up to 10 preset stations.

For communicating with other riders as well as with your passenger, consider the Cardo Scala Rider Q3. You and your passenger can chat or listen to stereo music (via A2DP). You can also communicate between four motorcycle riders within up to 1,100 yards of one another. The Click-to-Link® spontaneous intercom means there’s no need for pairing. The speakers are detachable, so you can plug your own into the 3.5 mm jack. Boom and corded microphones are interchangeable and fit almost any helmet. The buttons are big, but VOX activation lets you make and answer phone calls without using your hands—so they stay safely on your handlebars. You can program a Hot-Dial number. This system uses AGC technology to adjust the speaker volume according to your speed and the ambient noise. That way, though wind noise increase as you go faster, the speaker volume goes up as well, and you can still hear what’s being said. It also has a noise-cancelling microphone. It’s certified waterproof (which can be important in our climate) and dustproof per the IP67 standard. The built-in FM radio has RDS, smart automatic scan, and takes six programmable preset stations. It give you up to eight hours of talk-time and one week on standby after recharging from either a wall outlet or a USB connection. It also gives you a variety of connectivity options. The dual HS profile lets you connect to two Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones at once. You can stream wireless music through the stereo Bluetooth (A2DP)-enabled MP3 player or iPod® or smartphone. Using an MP3 cord, you can listen to a non-Bluetooth audio player. If you GPS supports the HS profile, you can connect to a Bluetooth-enabled GPS unit to get in-helmet navigation instructions. You can connect to other Scala Rider models to chat via intercom.

You’ll find a plethora of communication products at Eagle Leather. What’s more important, you’ll have our trained experts to help you decide which of them is best for you.